Or – “When The Craft And The Creative Urge Won’t Intertwine…” 

CA3.jpg

It is the job of creators to go nuts with their ideas, to give us the absolute most bang that they can for our buck, be it Elvis MODOKS, seven different spectrums of power, or a blonde guy in a crewcut coming back from the dead (whether he has a star or a lightning bolt on his chest.)  But, there’s another side to publishing as well, and the job of the editors and publishers is to reign in that creativity a bit and get the books to the stores on time.  When one side of the equation is imbalanced, as it became when this book gained an issue in mid-stream, one hopes that the other side (i.e. the creative guts of the book) is absolutely mind-blowing and benefits from, nay, REQUIRES extra running space to get the wondrous perfect ideas contained within the book into our waiting minds.  So…  how does this issue measure up?

Captain America Reborn #6 (of 5)

CA1.gifWRITER: Ed Brubaker
PENCILS: Bryan Hitch
COVER BY: John Cassaday, Bryan Hitch, and Joe Quesada

Previously, on Captain America Reborn:  Steve Rogers, when you come down to it, isn’t really all that special a guy.  He’s never the strongest, the most powerful, the fastest, but somehow, he embodies hero (especially in the Marvel Universe) in ways that no one else can…  None of the other Captain Americas have quite nailed the quintessential bits of leadership and even-handed calm that he brings to the role, and you can’t really imagine Clint Barton or Tony Stark standing up to Thanos with no weapons and no hope and practically daring the mad titan to annihilate ’em.  So, when he was assassinated a couple of years ago, nobody really thought that it was going to stick.  Lo and behold, the entire assassination plot was nothing more than a plot by the Red Skull to torture his old foe, drag his name through the dirt, and devalue the legend of the Sentinel of Liberty.  The Skull seems to have succeeded in his gamble, having transferred his mind into Cap’s body, and when last we left this series, was ready to choke the life out of James Buchanan Barnes, the latest successor to the Captain America mantle.

As we open our festivities this time, the soldiers of AIM (apparently now taking their costuming cues from Charlie Brown) find that a founding Avenger, ANY founding Avenger is a threat, as Henry “Call Me Wasp!” Pym cuts through ’em like corn through a goose, desperately trying to find Captain America’s girlfriend Sharon Rogers.  He finds her, but in an odd artistic choice, Bryan Hitch makes Sharon look a bit like Betty Cooper, with a very young face and a ponytail.  It’s oddly off-putting.  In any case, Hank busts her loose and they set out to find Cap.  For his part, Captain America I is trapped within his own mind, fighting a spiritual and psychological battle against the mind of his oldest enemy.  In a moment that might be considered badass, Steve goes all Michael-Keaton-in-Tim-Burton’s-Batman, hollering “Come on! Let’s die together!”  Not being played by Jack Nicholson, Skull isn’t up to the challenge, losing his focus and fleeing from his maddened opponent allowing Steve Rogers to take control of his own body again.  Pulling Bucky to his feet, Cap I rejoins the battle just in time to face a GIANT robot version of the Skull…  (I’m unclear on the whole plot point here, actually.  It seems that Steve drove him out and he returned to his robot shell, and somehow Sharon Carter shot him with one of Hank Pym’s weapons, causing him to grow?)  It’s really irrelevant, actually, as the upshot is GIANT RED SKULL RAMPAGING OVER WASHINGTON DC!  “Think you can still fight with just one hand, Captain America?” Steve asks Bucky.  “Does shooting still count as fighting?” replies Buck.  Heh…

The Avengers are in pitched battle with a squad of killer MODOKS already, so the giant Skull isn’t all that much of an escalation, but the addition of TWO Captain Americas to their side turns the tide, and Sharon, Hank and The Vision use the MODOKS themselves to shoot the Skull down.  “And THAT is how you do it!” cries Sharon, even though Hank did the wiring and Vision did the cybernetic controlling.  Bravado is an old American tradition, after all.  As the public watches, they’re star-struck by the sight of the original Cap returning to action, and a lovely full-page spread shows him raising his shield in victory!  Steve and Sharon are reunited, the Avengers book before Norm-O’s HAMMER troops arrive, and the new world order has surprises for the dead Steve.  “Norman Osborn has Avengers now?” he asks incredulously.  Norman, for his part, takes the news remarkably well, calmly implying that things are NOT done between him and the Star-Spangled Whatsis of Dubya Dubya Two.  In the aftermath of the battle, we see Red Skull’s daughter Sin, horribly disfigured to resemble her father’s mask, and Steve Rogers thinks about his visions, and what he’s learned from his ordeal.  Plagued by visions of a horrible Apocalyptic future, he wonders if he can save his friends from the horrors which may be to come.  We leave Steve enjoying a few quiet moments with Sharon, moments which he obviously sees as the calm before a storm…

So, the real question here isn’t necessarily the quality of the tale within, but instead whether it was worth the wait and the time anomalies that accompanied the additional issue.  Let’s be honest here, when this series was launched, the TITLE made it quite clear that Steve Rogers wasn’t as dead as my headlines would have made one believe.  This didn’t change the fact that the issues that came AFTER the events of this one having Steve in them bothered people, maybe even enraged a few…  And the intent of the additional issue was to give this story more room to breathe.  Problem I have with that is, this issue is mostly fight scene.  Sure, it’s an interesting fight scene, full of MODOKS and giants and GLAYVIN, but…  it’s a fight scene.  The most interesting parts of the battle between Steve and Johann was in the last issue, and if you just take this issue on it’s own merits, the psychic battle is too short, and ends abruptly.  Bryan Hitch always does good things with art, but this issue takes me back to the first and it’s overt similarities to Ultimate Avengers and their Cap.  Hitch’s take on Hank Pym and Sharon Carter is very odd (especially in the first few pages of the book) but the battle with Mecha-Skrullzilla is good, even if Hitch’s usual ‘wide-screen’ perspective seems to be a lot more cramped than usual.  In the final analysis, it’s a nice final chapter for this story that we all knew would end this way.  Captain America Reborn #6 will be more remembered for being “late” than for being innovative, but it gets the job done, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  For all it’s weaknesses and all it’s strengths, I still believe this would have been better served as three issues of the normal Captain America comic.  A little less decompression would have done wonders here…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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7 Comments

  1. astrodinosaurus
    January 30, 2010 at 12:50 am — Reply

    I’m pretty sure Osborne is in fact done with Cap. At least if the latest issue of Dark Wolverine isn’t a complete swerve. And since I haven’t heard you guys mention the incident on the podcast I’m inclined to believe none of you guys are reading the series… Can’t fault ya it started out good but got derailed after the 1st storyline..But as of late its not only good again but also massively interesting in regards to Siege…If the latest issue isn’t just a complete swerve.

    • January 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm — Reply

      I’m pretty sure Osborne is in fact done with Cap. At least if the latest issue of Dark Wolverine isn’t a complete swerve. And since I haven’t heard you guys mention the incident on the podcast I’m inclined to believe none of you guys are reading the series… Can’t fault ya it started out good but got derailed after the 1st storyline..But as of late its not only good again but also massively interesting in regards to Siege…If the latest issue isn’t just a complete swerve.

      I don’t read Dark Wolverine regularly, though I’m checking in with it occasionally.

      • astrodinosaurus
        January 30, 2010 at 6:52 pm — Reply

        I suggest catching the latest issue…As Socrates once remarked: Shit just got real.

  2. Navarre
    January 30, 2010 at 3:24 am — Reply

    Good review.

    I agree that Steve’s return would have been better served in his regular title than as a special miniseries. It would have avoided the shipping issue altogether and been just as good.

    Oh well, it’s not like I’m a fan of Steve Rogers anyway.

  3. Brother129
    January 30, 2010 at 6:25 am — Reply

    I agree. This could of have been an awesome 3-4 issue story. And of course I find myself asking continuity questions, like when does this story take place in relation to say New Avengers, the “Wield the Shield” one-shot, Iron Man, Siege, and of course his own book.

  4. arcee
    January 30, 2010 at 9:36 am — Reply

    I always come here for reviews. May not comment all the time but I ALWAYS come here for reviews – some of the best if not THE best posted anywhere online. This one on Cap didn’t disappoint and I agree with your overall assessment on the point of story compression.

    Good job.

    • January 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm — Reply

      always come here for reviews. May not comment all the time but I ALWAYS come here for reviews – some of the best if not THE best posted anywhere online. This one on Cap didn’t disappoint and I agree with your overall assessment on the point of story compression.

      Thank you very much. You’re one of my favorite Autobots, as well. :)

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